OPP line up to stop Canadian flag raising

Mark-Merlyn May24-09

VoC (right) w/CANACE co-founder Merlyn Kinrade, formerly of the RCN (HMCS Haida), former UN peacekeeper, longtime Caledonia resident and community contributor.

UPDATE 0933 EST June 03/09: Tekawennake reporter Erin Tully took issue with my characterization of her story as mentioned in this post. I offered to publish any rebuttal she wished to make in full, unedited, in a new, separate post and I even offered to allow her to choose the title. She refused.

UPDATE 1627 EST June 02/09: see CaledoniaWakeUpCall May 24/09 protest feature page for links, photos, video and text of speeches.

UPDATE 1757 EST June 01/09: Native occupiers threatened trouble if non-natives raised flags on May 24/09. See ‘OPP lied to Kinrade at Caledonia flag raising.’

On May 24/09 the OPP once again called out 150 officers and a helicopter to stop Canadian citizens from peacefully walking down Argyle Street and putting up Canadian flags on hydro poles across the street from the occupied Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia.

This was the fourth time OPP have stood against non-natives to prevent them from exercising their right to put up Canadian flags in Caledonia: Dec 16/06; Jan 20/07; Oct 08/07 and now, May 24/09.  

OPP make last minute offer

During meetings with the OPP in the weeks leading up to the protest, organizer Merlyn Kinrade and Gary McHale were told the OPP was not going to allow non-natives to exercise their right to put up flags across from DCE. 

Just before the protest began at 1:30 pm, however, Sergeant Carter made a last minute offer to allow just Merlyn Kinrade to put up a flag on another day. This offer was rejected because the right of other people to put up flags was important and Kinrade was not prepared to negotiate that right away. He countered with an offer that up to 10 people be allowed to put up flags if they wished, and that it would happen that same day.

After hearing speeches from Kinrade, Doug Fleming (of Doug’s Smokes protests fame), VoC and Christine McHale – with a helicopter circling overhead – the OPP still hadn’t made a decision on Kinrade’s counter-offer, so we marched to Canadian Tire where we were stopped by a police line. According to our sources there were 150 officers called out in total to stop us from putting up flags, most of which were held in reserve. After all, they wouldn’t want the public to see how much force they were prepared to use against peaceful Canadians trying to put up flags on public property.

Before leaving Lions Park, we asked the marchers not to block the road and not to retaliate should we be provoked or arrested and, in fact, the road was never blocked by protesters even once after we arrived at the Canadian Tire police line. Traffic flowed freely as we waited for the OPP to provide an answer to Kinrade’s counter-offer.

One excuse is as good as another…OPP arrest resident with Canadian flag

After some time, Sgt. Carter arrived to tell Kinrade his counter offer was unacceptable and the original offer was withdrawn because Caledonia resident Randy Fleming had been arrested earlier (while we were still at the Lions Hall) trying to put up a Canadian flag near DCE. Randy was walking down the street with a Canadian flag near Dave and Dana’s property and ran onto DCE with it where he was taken down by the OPP. Sachem editor/reporter Neil Dring told me he had pictures of the arrest, that they roughed Randy up ‘pretty good’ and that he saw some blood.

Randy’s arrest gave the OPP the bogus excuse they needed not to make a deal with Merlyn. Apparently, based on Carter’s position CANACE must be responsible if someone at the other end of town who was not part of our protest does something the OPP doesn’t like.

I did not see Randy Fleming at all on Sunday. His brother Doug was with us at Lions Hall and at Canadian Tire and had no idea that Randy had been arrested until it was confirmed by Neil Dring who showed him the photos of the arrest (the one in the Spectator showing Fleming with an OPP officer’s knee on his head). For the record, Randy Fleming was not part of our protest that day, and he was not acting on the instructions of Merlyn Kinrade or any other CANACE co-founder, a fact which was communicated to a disbelieving Sgt. Carter. 

Even though CANACE’s goal is not to place flags on DCE itself, it is not illegal for a non-native to do so, and I personally support Randy Fleming’s right to do it without interference or a bogus arrest and charge of Obstruct Police. Gary McHale has already made arrangements to meet Randy and guide him in the process of obtaining complete OPP disclosure based on his own extensive experience in defending himself against the Counselling Mischief Not Committed charge laid after the Dec 01/07 protest where McHale was viciously assaulted by numerous Six Nations smokeshack supporters.

Evidence gathered for private prosecutions

The badge numbers and photos of officers were recorded by VoC and CANACE co-founder Jeff Parkinson who videotaped as Merlyn Kinrade asked each in turn if they would allow him to put up a flag. While Sgt. Carter listened they were informed that their actions in preventing us from exercising rights common to all subjects of the Queen was illegal and that they might face criminal prosecution for Common Nuisance.

Flag-DCE May24-09

Cdn flag on E side of Argyle; DCE in background on W side.

Later in the day, at 5:06pm a flag was quickly raised across from DCE near the home of Dave Brown and Dana Chatwell by Merlyn Kinrade, Doug Fleming  and Peter Kamerman.  OPP officers in a nearby vehicle watched but didn’t interfere. Perhaps they’re tired of taking orders from native occupiers.

More pictures and info

1. Jeff has posted an account of the days events at the CaledoniaWakeUpCall.com blog along with some of the still photos I took with his camera throughout the day:

2. The Hamilton Spectator published Neil Dring’s (Sachem) account and photo of the Randy Fleming arrest:

3. Gary McHale advises that Regional News publisher Chris Pickup will be publishing my speech from May 24th as his column for the week. See my next post: 

4. In addition to my speech, watch for Bill Jackson’s story about the protest in the Regional News tomorrow.

More flag raisings to follow

The OPP have been told that protests will continue for as long as it takes to get the OPP to stop violating the rights of non-natives even if it takes 10 years. The fact that they made an albeit unsatisfactory last minute offer to Merlyn Kinrade is a sign that we are getting closer to that day. 


Mark Vandermaas, Editor

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